Introduction: Sourcing Rare Earth Magnets

Picture of Sourcing Rare Earth Magnets

Looking for cheap rare Earth magnets? I picked up this set of eBay for under $15 and it contains 188 of these little (but very strong) magnets and three dozen steel balls. Hopefully this gets more people into the magnetic challenge. I'll be posting my $1 digital counter/odometer/much more within a few days (and finally enter the challenge :D).

Simply grasp one end of a bar with pliers and squeeze. Then touch the bar to something magnetic such as a ferrous pair of pliers :P The idea is to deform the casing slightly which allows the magnet to pop out. Mine were only pressed in - no glue.

Be careful when putting them together - they are capable of self destruction if you snap them together. And once they are together -- its a PITA to get them apart (I used pliers ;) ).

Yes, I know you can find magnets around for free.... but if you can find this quantity/quality - I'd be impressed.


Zaacharia (author)2017-08-31

Late to the game but with round magnets you can make a rail gun and shoot ball-bearings through the walls (er, don't do that - build a backdrop).

pgd5000 (author)2011-08-31

I wish i would have seen this a year ago, i had one of these filled to the point it would not close, but i had to throw it away :(

super_genius (author)2007-07-07


Noodle93 (author)super_genius2007-10-29

I have a better idea which involves the 'Caps Lock' key. But on topic: Magnets are awesome, and there's lots of instructables that use them.

Kred14 (author)Noodle932010-03-20


momento mori (author)2010-01-31

this was hella helpful.

many thanks. :)

ElQuinntero (author)2009-04-21

would magnetix brand magnets work as good?

girrrrrrr2 (author)2007-05-27

nice job...i just cut my hand open...big time!!!

Bongmaster (author)girrrrrrr22007-05-29

how in the name of great buggery did u manage that?

girrrrrrr2 (author)Bongmaster2007-06-03

...metal shears...cutting the plastic in my hand...being stupid... does that help...

Bongmaster (author)girrrrrrr22007-06-03

clever trevor :P well its a learning curve :)

girrrrrrr2 (author)Bongmaster2007-06-03 names not trevor... its girrrrrrr2... the cut/scar is going to be a curve(really)

doobuzz (author)2007-01-26

Try dismantling old hard drives, you know like the 1 GB ones you can pick up for nothing at the dump in old computers. My friend and i have been getting some really big (and powerful!) ones for nothing at all. This one picked up a chair in our science lab!

stranoster (author)2006-11-04

Try they are a reliable source of rare earth magnets

Robotic_mage (author)2006-10-25

trebuchet03; Sorry I mistyped(misspoke) 1/8" Dia x 1/16th" Thick NdFeB Disc Magnet, Grade N40, Ni Plated with Matte finish, Axially Magnetized (the top & bottom flat faces are the north & south poles). Click on image for larger picture. 1/8" Dia. x 1/16" thick Disc Pack of 50: $10.00 Left hand column, toward the bottom are the magnets.

PetervG (author)2006-09-12

Lot's of dollar stores sell these kits to, i'll buy a kit next time I go and post back if they are or not rare earth magnets.

sockmaster (author)PetervG2006-09-15

These are the kind of magnetic link toys I've seen at my local dollar store. Each set gives you 22 1/4" diameter by 1/16" thickness NdFeB magnets. This comes out to less than 5 cents per magnet and you get a bunch of free ball bearings too :)

FrenchCrawler (author)sockmaster2006-09-30

I just refound your instuctable and was reading it:

I want to try it out but lack the surface to do so.... maybe if I take the metal casing off one of the old computers, cut it flat and hang it on my door... Then I could have a welcome (or what ever I want) sign.

trebuchet03 (author)sockmaster2006-09-15

cool! bigger diameter - but thinner magnets :D Just be careful as these might me more likely to break in half (if snapped together)... I've already chipped one of mine :P

trebuchet03 (author)PetervG2006-09-12

Be careful with dollar stores... while yes,a dollar is cheap... sometimes they are ripping you off. However, these might be worth it if there's enough and they are not a cheaper magnet...

zachninme (author)2006-09-12

I think it is easier just to get them from a supplyer. After all, if you get those from a store they CANT be cheaper than just the magnets. And if you buy the magnets, you can pick size and grade (no less than N45 for me for a small magnet like that!)

trebuchet03 (author)zachninme2006-09-12

what can't they be less than just the magnet from a magnet retail store? IF you can find a supplier that has 3/16"DIA by 1/8"thickness nickel plated for less than 8 cents ea. Do Share. What do you see in this that makes it hard? Just curious :P You make a good point about the grade -- I'll have to check the university's measurements lab for a gauss meter and report back ;) I'm scheduled to be back in there Frida, but I'll see if its open earlier :D

westfw (author)trebuchet032006-09-13

6mm*1.5mm at less than $0.05 each:
(and a neat and reasonably priced magnetic levitation gadget... Works, too.)

smaller: 2mm*assorted for $0.03 each, 3mm*assorted for as low as 0.045 each:
(lots of sizes of rectangular magnets; a regular supplier of the nuts who build
their own brushless motors for model planes.)

westfw (author)westfw2006-09-19

Rather larger magnets (10mm*2mm?), probably weaker.

trebuchet03 (author)westfw2006-09-13

Shipping seems to add $5 (for the first link) -- so the price comes out to a little under 10 cents each... but its a bigger magnet of known quality :P That does seem to be a viable alternative, but these toys are just so much fun :D That last one on the second link (the $330 one) looks like a monster :P

PetervG (author)trebuchet032006-09-12

Sure it might seem crazy and impossable but from a little LED flashlight I found out that LED works better than fine and is crazy look, it light up my rwhole room at night. And for only a dollar... Which reminds me, somone answer my question.

Robotic_mage (author)2006-09-18

Go check out '' you can get 50 magnets for a couple bucks.

trebuchet03 (author)Robotic_mage2006-09-19

I can't seem to find any of their magnets for $2 o.0

oskay (author)2006-09-12

You can also extract the magnets by dissolving away the plastic. The advantage of that method is that it gets them out all at once, and the disadvantage is that you have to clean them after extraction. I wrote an article about that in July, linking to the exact same set that you show here. The article is at

trebuchet03 (author)oskay2006-09-12

wow, cool article.... I still got a pile of these -- but I am only taking them apart as I need them... My girlfriend and I both enjoy playing with these... Hehe, got them cheaper than he did :P There comes a time in your life that you outgrow your toys... you're too old. But then later, another phase of life starts and you realize - you are now old enough to play with your toys. This, I think, is one of those toys :D Another idea (that site mentioned that the magnets fail at 80C)... you can build a Curie engine -- heat the magnet on a pendulum in the presence of another magnet. When the Curie temp is reached, it will loose its magnetic properties -- fall away and cool while swinging. When it cools sufficiently, it will be magnetic again and get stuck in the field of the other magnet....

oskay (author)trebuchet032006-09-12

Neodymium magnets will never regain their strength after being heated, so if you're willing to sacrifice them (and at this price, who isn't?), you could build the curie engine.

So I hear, neodymium magnets release toxic fumes when you burn them, so you'll have to be a little bit careful with your heat source. See

trebuchet03 (author)oskay2006-09-12

yeah, I'm depending on the nickel plating - but I did not realize its going to gas toxic badness... although, I'm told Canadian nickels have a high quantity of nickel in them. American Nickels have too much copper to be effective :/

spinach_dip (author)trebuchet032006-09-17

1946-1963 Canadian nickels, though they are easy to sort via a magnet.

AlexTheGreat (author)oskay2006-09-12

I used some some neodnium magnets to hold something while i was weldig, now the magnets don't have any magneticity at all

westfw (author)2006-09-13

By the way, this sort of toy with the easily removable magnets is the sort that was recalled due to possibly fatal accidents. Apparently eating one magnet is no particular problem, but if you happen to eat TWO, they can attract each other and "staple" your internal organs together, eventually causing things to tear or burst.
(peronally, I think the CPSC is way out of control, but you still might think twice about strong magnet toys in families with small children...)

trebuchet03 (author)westfw2006-09-13

yes, I saw a recall notice in target... perhaps that is why this sold for well under MSRP :P

hugedom (author)2006-09-12

I don't know, some online stores/ebay are selling rare earth magnets for about that much anyways and you get to pick the sizes you want without the trouble. I can see if you got the toy set for ~$5, THEN it may be a "cheaper" source.

trebuchet03 (author)hugedom2006-09-12

$5 would be sweet.... but less than 8 cents each + a whole bunch of steel balls (which I can use for other projects) is, IMO, a pretty sweet deal :P But if you do find a 3/16" and 1/8" thick for less - do share :D

Neodudeman (author)2006-09-12

oh hey, i didnt know those were rare earths! well crap, i'm gonna get some for me.

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Bio: Engineer making renewable energy products for African entrepreneurs.
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